Bologna vs Juventus, Preview: Rossoblu look to re-open the Scudetto race for the chasing pack

Gabriele Maltinti

Juventus are nine points clear at the top and back to near full strength, but Bologna will be a tough nut to crack.

Only both Milan clubs and Parma have emerged from the Dall'Ara with maximum points so far this season. Furthermore, the Rossoblu are enjoying a three game winning streak and snapped a poor away record with a resolute 1-0 victory against Inter last Sunday.

In the space of a month, Stefano Pioli's side have gone from relegation candidates to credible top ten contenders. It took a last-gasp Paul Pogba strike back in Week 10 for the Bianconeri to steal a 2-1 victory. The Frenchman looks likely to start this game from the bench as Arturo Vidal is back from suspension.

Talking of last minute, it was Emanuele Giaccherini's late winner last weekend against Catania which has given Juventus their large buffer at the top of the table.

Bologna have beaten Juventus just once in the last 25 meetings in all competitions - a 2-0 victory in Turin two years ago, thanks to a Marco Di Vaio brace. Aware of the task at hand, Pioli is relishing the tie.

He said: "We will not hide the difficulties of this game, but at the same time we won't rule anything out either. Letting Juventus get close to our penalty area would not be wise, so we aim to attack them and be pro-active.

"We have great respect for Juve and Antonio Conte, who is a great coach, but we also want to give it a go. We're in great shape right now and need to lift the bar even higher, as our performance must be another improvement on the last."

Conte has labelled this "a tough match" and dubbed Bologna "the most in-form team in the Division."

Panagiotis Kone returns from suspension to boost Bologna, but Frederik Sorensen misses out through injury. Alberto Gilardino will be looking to add to his tally of 11 goals, while it's a special game for Manolo Gabbiadini who will face his parent club. The on-loan midfielder has netted five times for Bologna and the Under-21 international has no qualms about facing Juventus.

He said: "Juve are just like any other opponent because in Serie A you cannot afford to be complacent against anyone.

"Nor will it be a different game for me. When I take to the field of play I do so focused with the task that my Coach has given me.

"With all due respect to which opponent I have in front of me, I will not be affected by anyone. A goal on Saturday? Let's hope so!"

Bologna injuries and suspensions

Out: Frederik Sorensen (injured)

Juventus injuries and suspensions

Out: Simone Pepe, Nicklas Bendtner (injured)

Match Date/Time: Saturday 16th March 2013 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 1 (Italy) RAI Internazionale, beIN Sport en Espanol (U.S) ESPN (UK)

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